The source of this study is from the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

Acupuncture has been used to treat chronic pain. Even so, there remains considerable controversy as to its value. The researchers of this study “aimed to determine the effect of acupuncture on four (4) chronic pain conditions: back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, chronic headache, and shoulder pain. Individual patient data meta-analyses were conducted using data from 29 of 31 eligible RCTs (random control trials), with a total of 17,922 patients analyzed.”

“In the primary analysis, including all eligible RCTs (random control trials), acupuncture was superior to both sham and no-acupuncture control for each pain condition (P < .001 for all comparisons). After exclusion of an outlying set of RCTs that strongly favored acupuncture, the effect sizes were similar across pain conditions. These results were robust to a variety of sensitivity analyses, including those related to publication bias.”

The authors concluded that “acupuncture is effective for the treatment of chronic pain and is therefore a reasonable referral option. Significant differences between true and sham acupuncture indicate that acupuncture is more than a placebo. However, these differences are relatively modest, suggesting that factors in addition to the specific effects of needling are important contributors to the therapeutic effects of acupuncture.”

Acupuncture for chronic pain: individual patient data meta-analysis.
Vickers AJ, Cronin AM, Maschino AC, Lewith G, MacPherson H, Foster NE, Sherman KJ, Witt CM, Linde K; Acupuncture Trialists’ Collaboration.
Collaborators (32)
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY 10065, USA.

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